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Forums - Sales Discussion - The evolution of the console market over time

JWeinCom said:

We need to know the number of PS360 owners to figure out what percentage of Wii owners own another system. 5% seems crazy low to me. Data on PS4/Xbox One ownership indicates that's also not the case.

https://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/364705/Data_suggests_almost_half_of_Xbox_One_users_also_own_a_PlayStation_4.php#:~:text=While%20this%20may%20especially%20prove,own%20an%20Xbox%20One%20X.

Dismissing Wii Sports as selling only because it was bundled is ignoring the possibility that a lot of people bought the Wii because it was bundled with Wii Sports, which is part of what we're trying to get at. Wii Sports sales in Japan gives us a baseline, but it's quite probable that Wii Sports would have sold better in other regions, and there's a lot of data to support that. For example, in 2012 when Mario Kart was by far the more common bundle (I don't believe Wii Sports was even really available at that point as a bundle) Wii Sports sold 1.5 million units, with 2 million Wiis being sold. Even if half of the Wii Sports sales were bundled, then about half of the people who bought a Wii in 2012 wanted Wii Sports. And if the ratio was actually 70%+ (which I believe it was) then even more people wanted Wii Sports. 

As for the other games selling on the Wii, they are similar to what sold on other Nintendo consoles, but they can't literally be the same people who bought other Nintendo consoles, because of the math. So, Wii gamers ultimately wound up with similar tastes to other Nintendo fans, but obviously something helped bring in more people. 

But, most of this is kind of tangential in the question of the evolution of the market. The question that's more relevant to me is what happened to that fanbase.

100% of Wii owners were gamers, whether they were before of after they got a Wii, and the question is whether they stayed gamers. There's evidence to show a decent amount went on to buy a PS41, but that would still indicate a huge drop off. If those gamers stayed in the market, a large chunk would have to be gaming on the Switch, which I think is largely supported by the evidence. 

I'm not familiar with Ampere Analysis. Gamasutra is the only place that reported on that survey, and their article doesn't give any details. Is it global? U.S. only? UK only (it is a British company, apparently)? Apparently, you need to have your own company to access the reports on their website. In any case, the figures cited are not entirely implausible, and are perhaps even likely. Cross-ownership could be increasing over time in general, which may be the case according to Matt Piscatella (see below). That survey was for the PS4 & XBO, after all, not for the PS3 & 360.

I actually managed to track down the original version of that Sept. 2009 NPD report you linked to that gave a maximum of 40% of Wii owners that owned a PS3 & 360. The survey, which actually took place in Jan. 2009 despite not being published until September, actually gives a chart showing what percentage of people owned more than one system. Turns out my spitballing was indeed way off the mark, and the overlap is indeed considerably more than 5% (I was unaware of these figures, and 5% seemed a reasonable lower-end estimate at the time; I was copy-pasting something I had already written about the subject several years ago).

Since they round off to whole percentage points there's going to be a margin of error, and that's not including whatever MoE exists within the survey itself (there's always some MoE in these things), but the results are mostly consistent with NPD's sales figures as of Jan. 2009. We can estimate that the number of Americans that owned a 360 and/or PS3 at the time was around 18.6-18.8M, compared to a total 360+PS3 install base of 21.2M. 42% of those who owned a 360 and/or PS3 also owned a Wii, which amounts to about 7.8-7.9M people/households that owned all three systems. That's about 43% of all Wii units sold in the U.S. at that point, a bit more than 40%. Calculating from the other way, nearly 7.3M Wii owners also owned a PS3 and/or 360, and that's at most, which is a good bit less than 7.8M. But again this is a survey and there is a margin of error and rounding was also involved in the percentages.

And that was Jan. 2009. The percentage of 360 owners that owned a PS3 could have increased beyond 18% over the following three years, but unless one of us can find anything more recent (some brief Googling didn't help me yesterday), there's no way of knowing for sure at the moment. But now that we do have a baseline, if the 360-PS3 overlap remained the same proportionally by Jan. 2012 as it was three years prior, that means that about 47% of Wii owners owned a 360 and/or a PS3. So, a slight majority of Wii owners only owned a Wii. Of course, not all of those are going to be people who wouldn't normally own a console. Hardcore Nintendo fans who only buy Nintendo systems could have been a big chunk of that.

Yes, Wii Sports may have incentivized people to get a Wii, much like how Super Mario Bros. may have incentivized people to get an NES back in the 80s. But I was focused more on overall spending habits. Excluding software packaged with the system or a Wii Remote, the best-selling software on the system wasn't too dissimilar from other Nintendo systems. Of course, coincidences do happen, and the non-gamers/casuals that jumped on board may have bought many of the same games as the core gamers, perhaps encouraged to do so by family members.

Now, if you define "gamer" as anyone who plays any sort of video game, then yeah, 100% of Wii owners are "gamers" by that definition. But I'm thinking of "core" gamers, people who treat video games as a serious hobby, not the retiree whose kids bought them a Wii, or the casual whose only other experiences with video games in the past decade has consisted of playing Angry Birds or Candy Crush during their break, or other people who would normally never even dream of spending money on a game console. It's also a possibility that many Wii owners were lapsed core gamers, people that might have regularly played video games (esp. on Nintendo systems) in the 80s & 90s but fell out of it at some point.

Finally, as to where the periphery demographics went and whether they're coming back to the Switch, there is some evidence that it has been appealing to periphery demographics, and I've seen several places claiming that it's bringing back lapsed gamers as well (anecdotally, I have a friend who dropped entirely out of console gaming in 2014, but got a Switch in late 2019). But there's also evidence that the overlap between the Switch and PS4/XBO owners was higher than the overlap between Wii and PS3/360 owners. According to Matt Piscatella, NPD's Player Pulse survey showed that as of the end of 2019 the cross-ownership statistics were as follows (numbers don't perfectly add up to 100% because of rounding):

30% Switch-only
31% Switch+PS4
23% Switch+XBO
17% Switch+PS4+XBO

So, that's ~70% of Switch owners owning either a PS4, XBO, or both. Based on NPD data, that also means that at the end of 2019 about 25% of PS4 and XBO owners owned a Switch. It also means only 5M Switch owners only owned a Switch but neither a PS4 nor XBO, and probably a good chunk of those are just diehard Nintendo-only loyalists. So, the vast majority of the Switch's owners are core gamers, or at least were at the time, which doesn't leave a ton of room for non-core gamers. Piscatella stated over on ResetEra that as of end of Q1 2018 the percentage of Switch owners that owned either of the other systems was 70% even then, indicating relative stability in that ratio between March 2018 and December 2019 (at least one other study contradicts this, showing a decline in cross-ownership, but also much higher cross-ownership rates to begin with, with the share of Switch owners being Switch-only going from 12% in 2019 to 25% in 2020; it does not specify PS4 or XBO cross-ownership specifically, though, and appears to have asked respondents if they had any other console in the home). He also stated that "Cross ownership across all 3 consoles is pretty high compared to prior gens," which may corroborate the unusually high overlap from that Gamasutra article referencing the Ampere study. There hasn't been an update from NPD about the overlap since the Dec. 2019 update, at least not that I could find, so we don't know if those figures have changed since then.

As for the kinds of games prevalent on the Switch, there really isn't a direct equivalent to the Wii Series, and certainly not a pack-in title like Wii Sports. Ring Fit Adventure is the closest equivalent we have to Wii Fit, but only 11% of Switch owners have a copy (and probably not all of them are non-gamers/casuals; and the game is arguably less casual than Wii Fit was). As for party games, while Super Mario Party did well (over 13M copies shipped as last update, with an attach rate of 17.3%), 1-2-Switch wasn't exactly a smash hit relative to other popular Switch games, with an attach rate of just under 4%, and Just Dance doesn't seem to be as popular as it was back in Gen 7. However, Animal Crossing has seen explosive growth, New Horizons selling well over twice as many copies sold as New Leaf and has an impressive attach rate of 39%, but for all we know it could have been a beneficiary of the pandemic just like everything else. In addition to Animal Crossing and Super Mario Party, the only games to pass 10M copies sold on the Switch are Mario Kart 8 DX, Smash, BotW, Pokemon S&S, Mario Odyssey, Pokemon Let's Go, and Splatoon 2 (NSMBUD is very close to that milestone as well). Animal Crossing's tremendous success aside, that best-seller's list isn't too dissimilar from previous Nintendo systems, and thus doesn't clearly indicate a massive periphery demographic flocking to the Switch as with the Wii.

Last edited by Shadow1980 - on 12 April 2021

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In accordance to the VGC forum rules, §8.5, I hereby exercise my right to demand to be left alone regarding the subject of the effects of the pandemic on video game sales (i.e., "COVID bump").

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What we know is that full body motion control isn't suited to Switch Lite or the hybrid in handheld mode.

Switch hybrid sold 3m in Japan in the same timeframe that RFA sold 1.5m. Either half of those Switch hybrid sales were due to RFA or some/most of the cazulz were already there. We can also safely assume that there are cazulz that aren't interested in RFA.

RFA currently has a 16% attach ratio to the hybrid Switch in Japan despite stock issues, higher price (compared to Wii-Wii Fit) and apparent lack of console accessibility.

ARMS was above 2m and 1,2 Switch was above 3m before RFA released so Nintendo fans have probably spent as much money on 12S and ARMS as they did on Wii Play and Wii Boxing.

Ubisoft didn't bother with Just Dance 2020 on Wii-U but did make it their last game for Wii most likely because it took 10years for a system to come along that could eat into the Wii versions sales.

Switch+RFA was hitting Ebay prices not seen since Wii+Wii Fit during the pre-pandemic holidays.

Seems ludicrous to credit FIFA, Skyrim and Witcher fans when ARMS, 12S, 51CHG and RFA easily outsell them and there are still 130m DS and 75m Wii owners out there who didn't buy Brain Training or Wii Fit.

I'm not saying the uber-cazul Just Dance, Wii Fit, Mario Kart wheel users are responsible for Switch's success just that a significant portion of them are back buying their first system since Wii.
The main driver of Switch sales is the returning Nintendo casual-core/lapsed gamer crowd, some of whom were uber-cazulz during the Wii/DS days but have since crossed the bridge Nintendo built for them.



Nov 2016 - NES outsells PS1 (JP)

Don't Play Stationary 4 ever. Switch!

Pyro as Bill said:

What we know is that full body motion control isn't suited to Switch Lite or the hybrid in handheld mode.

Switch hybrid sold 3m in Japan in the same timeframe that RFA sold 1.5m. Either half of those Switch hybrid sales were due to RFA or some/most of the cazulz were already there. We can also safely assume that there are cazulz that aren't interested in RFA.

RFA currently has a 16% attach ratio to the hybrid Switch in Japan despite stock issues, higher price (compared to Wii-Wii Fit) and apparent lack of console accessibility.

ARMS was above 2m and 1,2 Switch was above 3m before RFA released so Nintendo fans have probably spent as much money on 12S and ARMS as they did on Wii Play and Wii Boxing.

Ubisoft didn't bother with Just Dance 2020 on Wii-U but did make it their last game for Wii most likely because it took 10years for a system to come along that could eat into the Wii versions sales.

Switch+RFA was hitting Ebay prices not seen since Wii+Wii Fit during the pre-pandemic holidays.

Seems ludicrous to credit FIFA, Skyrim and Witcher fans when ARMS, 12S, 51CHG and RFA easily outsell them and there are still 130m DS and 75m Wii owners out there who didn't buy Brain Training or Wii Fit.

I'm not saying the uber-cazul Just Dance, Wii Fit, Mario Kart wheel users are responsible for Switch's success just that a significant portion of them are back buying their first system since Wii.
The main driver of Switch sales is the returning Nintendo casual-core/lapsed gamer crowd, some of whom were uber-cazulz during the Wii/DS days but have since crossed the bridge Nintendo built for them.

Wii Play sold 28 million copies.  But I think that even when people mention the fact that it came bundled with a Wiimote, it often gets forgotten that there was a huge Wiimote shortage at the time.  Consequently, a great many people bought Wii Play solely to add an additional Wiimote to their Wii for all the other couch multiplayer games they already had.  I was one of those people.  I remember struggling to find any game stores in my area that had individual Wiimotes in stock at the time, and having to buy Wii Play just to get an additional controller into my living room.  I remember playing through Wii Play with friends just once and then never having the desire to pop it in again.  It did not have the fun and addictive quality of Wii Sports.  I also remember a video game magazine at the time, that covered top selling games of the month in each issue, being very noticeably irked at having to include Wii Play in the Top 10 for as many consecutive weeks as it did.